Stefano Rivera/Contributing Writer
The women’s volleyball team finished the first day of the FIU Invite splitting its first two matchups, beating Bethune-Cookman 3-1 and losing to the University of Central Florida 0-3. Looking to finish the event and gain another victory, the Panthers were set to face off against Seattle University at 7 p.m.
The Panthers got off to a slow start, losing the first set 12-25. The team committed six errors, finished with a hitting percentage of -.061 and managed to only get five kills. However, the host team would get off to a hot start in the second set and bounce back and grab the set 25-17, forcing the Redhawks to a .000 hitting percentage, totaling six kills and six errors.
After being asked if Head Coach, Rita Buck-Crockett, said anything to her players before the second set she said, “I just told them that they are good and they just need to not be afraid to lose and they need to play to win.” She also said, “If you make an error, you make an error. But make it going for it, and I think that made the difference.”
However, the Redhawks got the better of the Panthers in the final two sets, defeating them 25-13 in the third and 25-16 in the fourth to win 3-1. Seattle finished the match with 49 kills, a .291 hitting percentage and 10 aces. Of those 10 aces, Junior, Jelena Vujcin, had six.
Buck-Crockett said, “Number seven’s serve is what really hurt our team. We couldn’t rotate her out. She got us. She’s a very good server.”
For the Panthers, Senior, Lucia Castro, rallied up nine kills and 10 digs. Junior, Katie Hogan, also had nine kills. Senior, Adriana McLamb, collected a team-high 18 digs and Sophomore, Tia Clay, finished with a team-high .333 hitting percentage.
The final game the team hosted this weekend was on Sunday, Sept. 20, against Florida Atlantic University and also the Conference USA home opener. The Panthers defeated the Owls 3-1 with a score of 25-22, 21-25, 25-11 and 25-18, improving to (8-4, 2-0 C-USA).
After splitting the first two sets, the Panthers rebounded with two dominating performances to down the Owls. Buck-Crockett was impressed with how her team bounced back.
She said, “I think what my team is doing very well is they’re paying attention to detail and they really are listening and executing the game plan.”
The Panthers were led by Castro, who posted a match-high 16 kills and totaled six blocks and five digs. Buck-Crockett said, “She (Castro) listened to the game plan. She got her confidence going that third game and she didn’t look back.”
Contributing to the win was stout play by many other Panthers. Senior, Gloria Levorin, finished with 11 kills and a match-high .661 hitting percentage. Freshman, Katie Friesen, totalled 37 assists and nine digs. Senior, McLamb, finished four digs shy from her career best with 23.
When asked how important starting 2-0 in C-USA play was, she said, “This is a huge win because FAU is a very good team.” She also said, “We’ve proven that we are a very good team.”
The Panthers will be on the road the next two games and continue their slate of C-USA games. First, they will head to Houston to take on Rice University on Friday, Sept. 25 at 7 p.m. After that match, they will make way to Bowling Green, Ky., to face off against Western Kentucky University on Sunday, Sept. 27 at 1 p.m.